Blog: Michelle RussellRace on to secure TPP agreement

Michelle Russell | 12 August 2015

After the latest round of TPP talks failed to clinch a deal, the race is now on to secure an agreement before the US presidential elections halt progress. Trade ministers are scrambling to try and forge a final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement within two months, after a meeting of trade ministers in Hawaii failed to clinch a deal last week.

If secured, Vietnam especially stands to gain from the TPP. In a separate deal, the country last week reached an agreement with the European Union (EU) on a free trade deal after two and a half years of talks. The agreement is the first of its kind that the EU has concluded with a developing country, and will remove nearly all tariffs on goods traded between the two economies. Vietnam will also remove almost all of its export duties.

India is another country with promising prospects as a new report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts the country will overtake China as the world's largest producer of cotton in the 2015/16 fiscal year.

Elsewhere, apparel imports into the US continued to rise in June, as retailers stocked up in anticipation of a busy spring and summer. While China remained top of the table, with growth accelerating from the month before, strong double-digit gains were booked by three of the top-ten supplier counties: Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

According to industry expert David Birnbaum, rising GDP and falling FOB prices have contributed to a shift in global garment imports over the past 15 years. He questions whether these trends will continue in the future.

Another question raised last week, wa whether wearable technology is a 'fad' or is it here to stay? A partner for Technology Transactions Group at law firm Cooley looks at the challenges faced from both a commercial and a legal perspective, and discusses their future impact.

And, in this month's management briefing, we round up the most exciting trends in software. From PLM and ERP, to digital design and protptyping, the latest software developments are opening up new opportunities for apparel brands and retailers, as well as a more streamlined shopping experience for their customers.

In other news, a new online sourcing platform is launched to link designers and fabric R&D teams with reputable mills globally; a US government decision to upgrade Malaysia in its annual report on human trafficking has prompted accusations of "sinister manipulation" of the TPP negotiating process; Patagonia raises the bar for environmental and human rights practices with its new 100% organic denim collection; and new research suggests one size doesn't fit all when it comes to tapping in to the growing purchasing power of millennials.

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